Are Kinesiology Sessions Rehabilitation?

In the space of one day I had two people approach me with completely different views about what Lifemoves’ Kinesiologists do. One did not see the difference between our exercise therapy services and Personal Training. The other person I spoke with stated that they had used Personal Trainers for nearly a decade and the trainers’ level of education and experience has run the gamut from the weekend coursers with BCRPA to those with advanced training such as Kinesiology or Physiotherapy (they now know what to look for when assessing a trainer’s qualifications).

From the outside perspective of those walking through and observing some of what we do with our clients, our programs may seem to be “total body” workouts, which in fact they are because 1. the body moves as a complete organism; 2. those who are rehabilitation clients require the ability and capacity to lift, push, pull, twist, carry and squat. What an observer doesn’t know is the medical history of the client nor why the specific exercises are in the program, why they are in the order they are in and what intensity they are being performed at.

"Unless they have some type of orthoses, prostheses, assistive device, mobility device or move with obvious compensations it is often difficult to know that someone has a medical condition, disability or injury just by observing them for 60 seconds."

As the second person discovered, many trainers are “more concerned about the amount of weight the client is pushing” instead of taking into account the individual’s history of injury and illnesses. This can set the client up to complete exercises with poor technique which sets them up for overuse injuries.

A Kinesiologist first completes an assessment which includes a medical history and movement screen then designs, teaches and implements an exercise program that incorporates all aspect of fitness and movement, while accounting for an injury(ies), illness(es) and disabilities not just exercises for site of injury or resulting movement compensations. Even defining rehabilitation as treating an injury is very limiting. Also, an exercise therapy program does not have to have isolated movements, joint manipulations or use exercise bands to be defined as rehabilitation. Sessions are designed to restore function and durability.

What is Rehabilitation?

“Rehabilitation is a treatment or treatments designed to facilitate the process of recovery from injury, illness, or disease to as normal a condition as possible” Medical Dictionary- More Information

Rehabilitation treatments include exercise. These normal conditions range from being able to continue to live independently, perform a very physically demanding job and compete athletically at a high level.

What do Lifemoves’ Kinesiologists do?

A client with a back injury who has a highly active and physically demanding job probably has some type of movement inefficiency that created the injury in the first place. They also require a program to rehabilitate them to the normal condition of being able to perform their job demands. This means that yes, we would have to properly progress them towards loaded dead lifts, squats and carries.

We have had clients approach us because their trainer was aggravating a previous condition or injury because they were not paying enough attention to correcting movement throughout the session. Exercise considerations for someone who needs to lose weight to ensure that their hernia surgery is successful are quite different than someone who wants to lose weight and has no known medical condition. Both clients will most likely have a full-body resistance program, however the exercises, tempo, intensity, and volume for both programs will be different.

During each exercise we carefully observe how it is being executed then coach and cue proper movement sequencing. If necessary we will progress or regress the exercise until we achieve the appropriate level of challenge.

Our clients have or have had an injury; are recovering from or have an illness; are regaining strength and function after a surgery or have a disability. Their goals are to manage their medical condition(s) while gaining as much physical conditioning as they can. These conditions include, but are not limited to transplants, brain injuries, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, total joint replacements, scoliosis, thyroid diseases, cancer and mental illnesses (depression and post-traumatic stress disorder).

Who are Kinesiologists?

“Kinesiologists offer a wide variety of assessments and services to the public to assist with both injury/illness prevention and injury management. Their practice is based on the core sciences of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychomotor behaviour. Kinesiologists work in the fitness industry, clinically and in industrial environments” Canadian Kinesiology Alliance.

In Ontario we are close to becoming a regulated health care profession. A growing number of health benefits plans are providing coverage for our services. ICBC and disability benefits providers such as Sun Life Financial, Manulife and Great West Life will pay for training services when they are conducted by Practicing Kinesiologists registered with the BC Association of Kinesiologists.

Other health care professionals, such as Physiotherapist have the ability to prescribe exercises, however exercise therapy is our area of specialty and expertise. We focus on the entire person’s functionality not just the site of injury. We work in conjunction with the rest of our clients’ medical team.

So, yes Kinesiology sessions are rehabilitation!

Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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